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agaves happy!

North Wales, PA(Zone 6a)

They are loving their new home outside this summer. Agaves and totem pole cactus are even giggling I think! :)

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

You must be right....I think I hear them all the way in California! LOL

SW, WI(Zone 4b)

I *knew* you'd like those agaves out there! I miss my monster one that my hub left outside last winter! She was monstrous and pokey but wonderful! (sniff, sniff)

North Wales, PA(Zone 6a)

Nan: Is your new agave doing OK?

Thousand Oaks, CA

What sorts of Agaves are these? I am finding many Agave have this pesky habit of taking over the succulent gardens, with some popping up 10-15 feet away from the parents... and OUCH! digging them up is a tough job, especially in a garden with other sharp things, too. Anyone want Agave suckers?... have a few different species...

Hey Sansman, I finally made it here! I'm glad to hear your agaves are liking your summertime conditions. If you haven't yet got a hold of the new agave and yucca book by Mary Irish (Timber Press), I recommend it. I love agaves but I have to admit that as young plants they do tend to look alike. It's only when they grow up that they really show off their unique characters.

Not all agaves sucker like crazy. Many species either never offset or only do so rarely. But, these species tend to be harder to find since they require seed, which usually must be collected from wild populations, or the rare blooming plant. I remember when A. horrida was blooming at the University of California botanical garden. I mentioned it to some succulent society members and they got seed and raised a big crop of plants. Some had wonderful heavy spines. But, those seedlings are long gone, having been sold at chapter plant sales. Only a tiny fraction of the seed was collected from that plant.

One of my favorite species is multifilifera. This one doesn't offset, has wonderfully "hairy" leaves, and is somewhat unique in that it slowly makes a short trunk, like an agave.

Jon Dixon

Thousand Oaks, CA

I recently got a couple nice Agaves- A francozinni (spelling?)- an incredible silver/white, and guingolla- an incredibly smooth turquoise/ sea green . There are mammoth specimens of both in either Lotus Land in Santa Barbara, or Huntington gardens and they both looked like solitary plant... and after having to hack out yards and yards of Agave americana from the garden (Ouch!!), these were welcome and beautiful replacements... but, sure enough, both are suckering. At least both sucker right near the parent and not some 5-10 feet away. I guess the gardners remove the suckers in these gardens?

North Wales, PA(Zone 6a)

Jon Dixon is here and we are all better for it! If you don't know Jon, he is an amazing source of knowledge and a very good person to boot! Not to be cheesy, but I owe him the "sans" in sansman--he got me started (before any rumors get started! :).

As always, many thanks John!

BBob: I have two large ones outside now--americana medio picta alba and filifera. Have a couple more at the office--victoria reginae and parryi truncata. Be careful out there digging! The americana gave me a nasty little prick on the nose one time.

(Zone 4b)

What is this "totem pole cactus" of which you speak? I am intrigued.... sounds groovy. Sometimes the very names of things can make you love them, don't they? I'm already half in love with this alleged "totem pole cactus", and I don't even know what the heck it is!

A rose by any other name....
May be named a skunk thistle, and how good would it smell THEN? Huh?


Bob, Both those agaves are nice species, with special unique qualities, but, I'm afraid they may not be the best choices for a garden. Guingola would be perfect but it is a little tender. Up here in N. California they really don't like winter rains, ending up with spotted leaves. This year, and under a plastic roof but otherwise exposed they came through fine, but, then, my minimum this year was an amazing 39-40 degrees (F). But, I saw one in the previous garden of the owner of Nature's Curiosity shop in Vista and it looked really good. So, maybe it will do better in S. California as a garden subject. It comes from low (?) elevation in S. Mexico.

But, francoisini (I can't spell it either) is a giant. At the Ruth Bancroft garden there is a planting of this species that takes up about a half acre (maybe an acre?). It is a giant species--very pretty but it offsets a lot and each plant gets huge. I have one that lives in a big pot but still is able to put out a few offsets. I have a big yard so I plan on putting it in the ground someday (if I dare).

Thousand Oaks, CA

Well, the A guingolla has gone through two winters so far without effect (down to 27F).. looks perfect.. as does the A francozini which went through one. The reason I thought this one didn't sucker is the ones at Lotus land have been there for over a decade (and yes, they are enormous) and had'nt suckered as of two years ago. However, since I got mine, I did learn they DID sucker, but only recently. They stand out there beautifully nearly white next to the blue grey A americanas, which sucker so profusely they take over everything. I was pretty jazzed I got it, and it is in a spot where,even if it suckers a bit, won't be a problem... but the plant you mention would definitely be a big problem... guess if it starts to do that, I may have suckers of that to get rid of, too (only one sucker so far, and already found an owner for it).

Hi Bob, I agree francoisini is a beautiful plant. I was also really pleased when I found it. Because of its size it isn't offered that often. I don't see why you can't enjoy it and watch for an invasion of suckers. If it becomes a problem you can always take it out or make some sort of root barrier. Maybe the plants at Lotusland have their pups dug out as they show themselves. That way they aren't a problem with keeping under control. It's only when a lot of offsets get large and then they all start offsetting that things get out of control.

If the guingola comes through your winter without showing damage then I guess your conditions are favorable. I think our problem up here is that our winter temps are cooler in the days and perhaps a little colder in our rare cold snaps. Also we get much more rain. So, it would be the combination of wet and cool to cold temps that make them unsuitable landscape plants up here. Even if they do get damaged they quickly grow a new set of nice leaves by mid summer.

My parryi is offsetting now quite a bit. I am happy to see it spread. But, a friend in Palo Alto has one that is now blooming and it has never produced an offset in his garden. I'm pretty sure it's parryi.

If you see bovicornuta for sale, that is a great landscape plant which stays fairly small and rarely offsets. It's also very pretty. Another real beauty is marmorata. It is perhaps the lightest silver color. There are many great agaves. Then Huntington is full of wonderful species.

Valley Village, CA

You betcha about the Huntington Gardens. Jon it's great to see you on this forum. I have an extra hairy edged variety, and it's up for grabs. I don't know the name, it does not offset. Jon I owe you, I have several miniature forms, one green and white no teeth miniature, it is offsetting, it's yours if you want it. I hope my Agave parri v. truncata will offset, it is in open run, getting good sun, it was purchased at the Huntington. Thanks for the warning that the offsets could be several feet away from mama, just my luck it will come up in the middle of my front lawn. Crasulady

Valley Village, CA

Jon, please, do I water my Agave this time of year. Mine are miniatures placed in 4" clay containers and getting only morning sun. Is once a week to often for this species.

Thousand Oaks, CA

I was told that Agave victoriae-reginae don't sucker, and also don't die after flowering.. is this true?

Norma, this is the growing season for agaves. They like plenty of water now. Summer is the time of year when they get their storms down in Mexico or in Arizona.

Bob, A. victoria-reginae does and doesn't sucker. Isn't that simple! Actually it depends on the clone. Way back, when I was first growing succulents and learning things, they were plants that didn't sucker. I guess in those days the plants were all grown from seed from non-suckering plants. But, nowadays there are some little suckers that have gotten into the trade and it seems that much of the plants available are from those clones--including the so-so variegated clone. There is one (or more?) agaves that do not die after blooming. I forget which one--but it's not victoria-reginae. One of my earliest succulent memories was visiting the old Northside's Succulent Nursery in San Jose and seeing the owner's plant in bloom in his garden and hearing him lament that his plant was now going to die.

Speaking of suckers: many agaves in nature have clones that will vary greatly in their ability to offset. They will also often have the odd clone that will only make much smaller rosettes but also sucker much more freely. We get some of our minis from these clones. I have a mini clustering lechugilla. I suspect that "patoni" is a mini clustering parryi. The term "caespitose" means offsetting. I have also noticed that when I grow some "non-offsetting" species in large pots with plenty of summer water and feeding that they will make the rare offset. Offsetting also seems to stop in some plants as they get older and larger, and, also after they go into the ground.

Valley Village, CA

I have several miniature A. victoria reginae they do sucker.
I also have one beautiful large form well painted with Gelso
or so it seems, it will not sucker, I also heard the rumor that it will not die after if flowers.
Jon Dixon, why don't you talk to me? I owe you plants, what would you like? I am so glad to see you on this forum, I can rely on your information. Thanks Crasulady

SW, WI(Zone 4b)

Sansman! Sorry took me so long to read new agave is doing *great*!! She's on my sunporch basking in the sunlight..... monster agave was a plain old Americana...she was in a large tub and she did, indeed sucker like crazy!! I traded and gave away plenty! They're not hardy here in zone 4, of course, so I don't have the problem of 'excess' suckers as you might! Would you have any suckers of the variegated Americana?

Thousand Oaks, CA

Yes, I have numerous suckers of both the white and yellow forms of this plant... they also sucker like mad. Have one in a pot and the other in very far corner of the yard... no way will I plant another of those in the garden again... too hard to get rid of. Want any?

SW, WI(Zone 4b)

hee hee...far corner huh? I've planted a few things in my yard's far corners too...and 'whew'...was glad I did....Guess you're lucky it's not in the middle of the yard? Honestly, I'd *love* a sucker of each of the variegates, if possible. Just let me know what you need for them, and thanks!!

Thousand Oaks, CA

I noted you live in Wisconsin... that an area you can grow Agave? I will cut off the smallest suckers (unless you really want something bigger). If that sounds OK, let me know address and how you want sent.

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)

Hi Gang,

I barely grow Agaves (except 2 tiny ones that rarely do anything (I grow indoors in NYC) & are about to be invited elsewhere). Unless of course, you all have some tips abt how I might jump start these 2?

Just wanted to say a nice big *Welcome* to JonD. Great to see you here!!!

SW, WI(Zone 4b)

Pirate there any way you can place them outdoors during the summer? The first couple of years that I had mine, I just kept potting it up as it began to fill the pot, and it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and........eventually it was in a large tub-type pot that was about 20" across, and the plant's leaves extended way beyond the pot's rim. I swear the pot weighed more than 100 lbs....lots of suckers - stickers too!

North Wales, PA(Zone 6a)

Nan is exactly right. I was told today by an experienced grower that you should pot agaves in rather large pots, gradually inclement to full sun in summer, and water and feed vigorously. You'll be rewarded with much growth and strong root systems.

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)

Hi Nancy & SansMan,

Unfortunately, I have no outdoors to give them (apartment dweller), but they do live on the windowsills in great western light. Maybe I'll try potting 'em up one size larger, hadn't thought to try that. Thx Again.

I don't have any direct experience growing agaves in NYC apartments, but they can't be too difficult. I have noticed that many of my plants just stay pretty much dormant all Spring. I think that is their nature--as Mexico, home to most of them has a very dry season from December to May (more or less). So, agaves tend to pick up in June and really grow during the summer and fall. Potting up now is a good idea. Just remember that agaves growing in large pots still go dormant in winter, and will easily rot if in a large pot that is watered. Here in N. California I have found that over-potting agaves can work well now but be dangerous if I leave them out in our wet winter. So, in late fall/early winter I have to put them indoors or under a cover, not to protect from frost but to protect from rain.


Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)


Thx for the dormant in spring comment, I am new to Agaves, don't know much abt them yet, but thought they just weren't liking me or my culture, 'cause they've done next to nothing all year -- that explains it. Thank you Jon.

does anyone out there still have any agave suckers? i would like some. I live in wisconsin, but i have started some cactus indoors i have a sun room. Thanks!

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